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Transparency of Strong Gravitational Waves

Y. Hadad, V. Zakharov

Department of Mathematics, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, 85721 USA

(Dated: January 28th, 2014)This paper studies diagonal spacetime metrics. It is shown that the overdetermined Einsteinvacuum equations are compatible if one Killing vector exists. The stability of plane gravitationalwaves of the Robinson type is studied. This stability problem bares a fantastic mathematicalresemblance to the stability of the Schwarzschild black hole studied by Regge and Wheeler. Justlike for the Schwarzschild black hole, the Robinson gravitational waves are proven to be stable withrespect to small perturbations. We conjecture that a bigger class of vacuum solutions are stable,among which are all gravitational solitons. Moreover, the stability analysis reveals a surprising fact:a wave barrier will be transparent to the Robinson waves, which therefore passes through the barrierfreely. This is a hint of integrability of the 1 + 2 vacuum Einstein equations for diagonal metrics.

PACS numbers: 02.30.Ik,02.30.Jr,05.45.Yv,04.20.-q,04.30.-w,04.70.Bw

I. INTRODUCTION

In the theory of relativity, the Einstein-Hilbert actionis

S

= 12

R

√ −

gd

4

x

(1)where

R

is the scalar curvature of the spacetime metric

g

µν

,

g

is the determinant of

g

µν

and the integration isperformed over the four-dimensional spacetime. Varyingthe Einstein-Hilbert action (1) with respect to the inversemetric

g

µν

gives Einstein’s vacuum equations,

R

µν

= 0 (2)where

R

µν

is the Ricci curvature tensor. Einstein’s vac-uum equations determine the evolution of the spacetimemetric

g

µν

in empty space.This paper focuses on

diagonal

spacetime metrics.These are metrics that can be written in the form

g

µν

= (

H

µ

)

2

δ

µν

(3)where

δ

µν

is the Kroncker delta. Here and in the rest of this paper, Einstein’s summation convention is

not

used.In matrix form, the diagonal metric is

g

µν

=

(

H

0

)

2

0 0 00 (

H

1

)

2

0 00 0 (

H

2

)

2

00 0 0 (

H

3

)

2

.

(4)It is convenient not to worry about the sign of the metric.Instead, one may restore the proper metric signature (

−

+++) by substituting

H

0

→

iH

0

.It is a well known result that

every

metric

g

µν

may bediagonalized at

any

given event of spacetime (e.g. by us-ing Riemann normal coordinates) [1]. Nevertheless, thisis a local result, which holds globally only for very speciﬁcspacetime metrics. This means that the class of metricsthat can be casted into the diagonal form (3)

globally

should be expected to have

unique features

. It is impor-tant to keep in mind that the

diagonality

of the metric

is not an invariant property

. In other words, some non-diagonal metrics

g

µν

may be transformed to the diagonalform (3) by a proper choice of coordinates.The metric (3) describes a wide range of physical phe-nomena. In particular, it includes the Schwarzschildblack hole [2], the Kasner metric [3], the Friedmann-
Robertson-Walker model of cosmology [4], the Milnemodel of cosmology [4], a certain class of single-polarizedplane gravitational waves [4] and special cases of gravi-tational solitons [5].The goal of the rest of this paper is to study the systemof vacuum Einstein Eqs. (2) for diagonal metrics (3). In
particular, the mathematical structure of the equationsand their physical implications on gravitational waves areemphasized.Section II includes a derivation of the Einstein equa-tions in the case of the diagonal metric (3). A convenientform for analyzing the equations is obtained. Section IIIshows that if at least one Killing vector exists, Einstein’sequations for diagonal metric are compatible. In sectionIV, plane gravitational waves are studied. A simple crite-ria for asymptotic ﬂatness and compatibility of the ﬁeldequations for plane waves are derived. One of the mostfamous examples of such plane waves is the Bondi-Pirani-Robinson (BPR) waves [6]. In section V it is proven that
such waves are stable with respect to diagonal perturba-tions that depend on 1 + 2 coordinates.As a concrete example, in section VI a BPR wave withsoliton-like properties is studied. The emitted (pertur-bation) wave is shown to travel through the BPR wave

without any reﬂection

and

independently of the amplitude of the BPR wave

. The latter implies that a

strong (BPR)gravitational wave would be transparent

to the perturba-tion wave. The only remnant of the collision is a phaseshift which depends on the angle between the two waves.These properties, which are typically exhibited by soli-tons,

suggest that the

1 + 2

vacuum Einstein equations for diagonal metrics are integrable

a r X i v : 1 4 0 1 . 7 2 5 1 v 1 [ g r - q c ] 2 8 J a n 2 0 1 4

2

II. THE FIELD EQUATIONS

g

µν

= 1(

H

µ

)

2

δ

µν

(5)and the Christoﬀel symbols areΓ

λµν

= 0 (6)Γ

µµν

=

∂

ν

(ln

H

µ

)Γ

ν µµ

=

−

1(

H

ν

)

2

H

µ

∂

ν

H

µ

where

µ,ν,λ

are assumed to be mutually exclusive indices(

µ

=

ν

,

µ

=

λ

,

ν

=

λ

). Deﬁne the rotation coeﬃcients

Q

µν

= 1

H

ν

∂

ν

H

µ

(7)with which one can write the oﬀ-diagonal Ricci curvaturetensor as

R

µν

=

−

λ

=

µ,ν

H

µ

H

λ

(

∂

ν

Q

λµ

−

Q

λν

Q

νµ

) (8)for

µ

=

ν

. As for the diagonal elements, the Ricci tensorgives

R

µµ

=

−

ν

=

µ

H

µ

H

ν

E

µν

(9)where

E

µν

=

∂

ν

Q

µν

+

∂

µ

Q

νµ

+

λ

=

µ,ν

Q

µλ

Q

νλ

(10)The scalar curvature is

R

=

−

2

µ<ν

E

µν

H

µ

H

ν

.

(11)Since the determinant of the metric is det

g

=(

H

0

H

1

H

2

H

3

)

2

S

=

−

i

µ

=

ν

=

λ

=

σ

E

µν

H

λ

H

σ

d

4

x.

(12)If one performs an integration by parts to remove thesecond order derivatives in

E

µν

, a very concise formulafor the Einstein-Hilbert action in terms of the metric co-eﬃcients only is obtained,

S

=

µ

iH

µ

ν

=

λ

=

σ

=

µ

H

ν

(

∂

µ

H

λ

)(

∂

µ

H

σ

)

d

4

x.

(13)The reader should not be alarmed by the appearanceof the imaginary root of unity

i

=

√ −

1. It is there dueto the signature of the metric and the transformation

H

0

→

iH

0

, which was mentioned after Eq. (4), revealsimmediately that the action (13) is manifestly real-valuedas expected.

III. COMPATIBILITY

When studying

general

metrics, the symmetric

g

µν

hasten elements, four of which may be eliminated throughthe use of gauge transformations. This makes the vacuumEinstein equations

R

µν

= 0 an overdetermined system of ten equations for six unknowns. In normal circumstancethis might raise the question of compatibility. Neverthe-less, this is not an issue, as one can prove using the fourBianchi identities that the vacuum Einstein equations areindeed compatible [1].However, the situation is rather diﬀerent when dis-cussing diagonal metrics (3). In this case, Einstein’s vac-uum equations

R

µν

= 0 give ten equations again, but thistime for only

four

unknown functions

H

µ

(

µ

= 0

,

1

,

2

,

3).In this case, the usual argument using the Bianchi identi-ties ceases to hold, and an important question thus arises:

are the Einstein’s vacuum equations for diagonal metrics compatible?

x

3

. Math-ematically, this means that the metric has the Killingvector

∂

3

and depends on the three coordinates

x

0

,x

1

,x

2

only. In this case, the oﬀ-diagonal terms of the Ricci cur-vature tensor (8) give only three independent equations

R

01

=

R

02

=

R

12

= 0 (14)coupled to the four diagonal equations

R

µµ

= 0 (15)for

µ

= 0

,

1

,

2

,

the

1+2

vacuum Einstein equations for diagonal met-rics

. The 1 + 2 vacuum Einstein equations for diagonalmetrics form an overdetermined system of seven equa-tions for four unknown functions. As an overdeterminedsystem, the compatibility of the seven equations mustbe proven, as it does not follow from the argument typ-ically used for non-diagonal metrics. The authors couldnot ﬁnd any evidence for such a result in the literature.Whether the 1+2 Einstein equations for diagonal metricsare indeed compatible is a very natural question to ask,as such metrics have many applications in cosmology andastronomy, some of which will be described in the nextsections. Fortunately, it turns out that the answer is af-ﬁrmative, as the next theorem proves.

Theorem 16.

The

1+2

Proving the statement of this theorem using theoriginal degrees of freedom

H

0

,H

1

,H

2

and

H

3

is rathertedious. Instead, it is much easier to exploit the specialrole of

H

3

as the degree of freedom that corresponds tothe Killing vector

∂

3

. Deﬁne,

H

0

=

e

−

Λ

γ H

1

=

e

−

Λ

β

(17)

H

2

=

e

−

Λ

α H

3

=

e

Λ

.

3Using the new degrees of freedom

α,β,γ

∂

0

∂

1

α

=

−

2

α

(

∂

0

Λ)(

∂

1

Λ) + (

∂

0

β

)(

∂

1

α

)

β

+ (

∂

0

α

)(

∂

1

γ

)

γ ∂

0

∂

2

β

=

−

2

β

(

∂

0

Λ)(

∂

2

Λ) + (

∂

0

α

)(

∂

2

β

)

α

+ (

∂

0

β

)(

∂

2

γ

)

γ ∂

1

∂

2

γ

=

−

2

γ

(

∂

1

Λ)(

∂

2

Λ) + (

∂

1

α

)(

∂

2

γ

)

α

+ (

∂

1

γ

)(

∂

2

β

)

β .

As for the diagonal Eqs. (15), it is convenient to repre-sent them in an equivalent form through the variationalformulation. The Lagrangian density of the Einstein-Hilbert action (13) is now

L

= 2

αβ γ

(

∂

0

Λ)

2

−

αγ β

(

∂

1

Λ)

2

−

βγ α

(

∂

2

Λ)

2

(19)

−

(

∂

0

α

)(

∂

0

β

)

γ

+ (

∂

1

α

)(

∂

1

γ

)

β

+ (

∂

2

β

)(

∂

2

γ

)

α

.

The variations

δS δα

=

δS δβ

=

δS δγ

= 0 give three of thediagonal equations

β∂

0

∂

0

β

−

γ∂

1

∂

1

γ

=

−

β

2

(

∂

0

Λ)

2

+

γ

2

(

∂

1

Λ)

2

−

β

2

γ

2

α

2

(

∂

2

Λ)

2

+

β γ

(

∂

0

β

)(

∂

0

γ

)

−

γ β

(

∂

1

β

)(

∂

1

γ

) +

βγ α

2

(

∂

2

β

)(

∂

2

γ

) (20)

α∂

0

∂

0

α

−

γ∂

2

∂

2

γ

=

−

α

2

(

∂

0

Λ)

2

−

α

2

γ

2

β

2

(

∂

1

Λ)

2

+

γ

2

(

∂

2

Λ)

2

+

αγ

(

∂

0

α

)(

∂

0

γ

) +

αγ β

2

(

∂

1

α

)(

∂

1

γ

)

−

γ α

(

∂

2

α

)(

∂

2

γ

)

α∂

1

∂

1

α

+

β∂

2

∂

2

β

=

−

α

2

β

2

γ

2

(

∂

0

Λ)

2

−

α

2

(

∂

1

Λ)

2

−

β

2

(

∂

2

Λ)

2

+

αβ γ

2

(

∂

0

α

)(

∂

0

β

) +

αβ

(

∂

1

α

)(

∂

1

β

) +

β α

(

∂

2

α

)(

∂

2

β

)

,

while the last diagonal equation,

δS δ

Λ

= 0 is

∂

0

αβ γ ∂

0

Λ

−

∂

1

αγ β ∂

1

Λ

−

∂

2

βγ α ∂

2

Λ

= 0

.

x

2

,x

1

and

x

0

respec-tively. This gives three third order equations for

α,β

and

γ

. One may now eliminate each of the third order termsusing the non-diagonal Eqs. (18). After a lengthy alge-bra, one sees that with the aid of Eqs. (18) once more,all 38 terms in each equation completely vanish. There-fore the 1+2 Einstein equations for diagonal metrics areindeed compatible.The degrees of freedom

α,β,γ

, and Λ from theorem(16) are very useful. They provide an alternative way tostudy general diagonal spacetime metrics (3). With suchdegrees of freedom the spacetime interval is

ds

2

=

e

−

2Λ

−

(

γdx

0

)

2

+ (

βdx

1

)

2

+ (

αdx

2

)

2

+

e

2Λ

(

dx

3

)

3

(22)The spacetime interval (22) naturally generalizes theinterval studied in [7, 8]. To see this, assume the metric
is independent of

x

2

, set

β

=

γ

and deﬁne

f

=

γ

2

e

−

2Λ

ds

2

=

f

−

(

dx

0

)

2

+ (

dx

1

)

2

+

α

2

e

−

2Λ

(

dx

2

)

2

+

e

2Λ

(

dx

3

)

3

(23)For this metric one may use the inverse scattering trans-form [7, 8] to derive gravitational solitons on diagonalmetrics [5].There is another merit of using the new degrees of free-dom, as in the course of the proof of theorem (16) we just derived

a new conservation law

. This is of courseEq. (21). Whenever the metric is asymptotically ﬂat, italso yields the integral of motion,

P

=

αβ γ ∂

0

Λ

dx

1

dx

2

(24)which is the conjugate momentum of the function Λ, ascan be easily seen from the Lagrangian in Eq. (19).

IV. PLANE GRAVITATIONAL WAVES

Waves come in many forms and shapes. The simplestof which are of course plane waves, whose wavefronts areparallel planes extended ad inﬁnitum. In general rela-tivity, plane gravitational waves are typically studied asa special case of the famous

pp

-waves [9]. The

pp

-classconsists of any spacetime metric that can be casted intothe form,

ds

2

=

H

(

u,x,y

)

du

2

+ 2

dudv

+

dx

2

+

dy

2

.

(25)Recently, a coordinate-free deﬁnition of them was given[10]. For such a metric, Einstein’s vacuum equation re-duces to Laplace’s equation,

∂

2

H ∂x

2

+

∂

2

H ∂y

2

= 0 (26)and is therefore

linear

in

H

. A

pp

-wave is called a

plane wave

if

H

can be transformed into

H

(

u,x,y

) =

a

(

u

)(

x

2

−

y

2

) + 2

b

(

u

)

xy

(27)

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